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Are we fat because of man-made chemicals?
New science links environmental chemicals to the global obesity epidemic.

Controversial new science is raising suspicion that chemicals in the environment may be programming us to be fat. And it starts before we're even born.  That's the subject of a new Dreamfilm documentary called Programmed to be Fat?.

Photo Credit: John Collins

Obesity in Canada has doubled in less than 30 years. 59 per cent of all Canadians are now either overweight or obese.  It's true that we eat too much and don't exercise enough. But a small group of scientists have begun looking beyond the obvious because of a group that can't chew, let alone jog: infant obesity rose more than 70 per cent in just 20 years. You can't blame them for unhealthy lifestyles.  The scientists suspect that, starting in the womb, man-made chemicals may be triggering changes to our metabolism that result in life-long weight gain.

Programmed to be Fat? tells the stories of three scientists whose unexpected findings led them to follow the research of a curious doctor in Scotland, baffled by her inability to lose weight. For three years she pored over existing research on environmental chemicals and finally published a key study in an alternative medicine journal. It linked endocrine-disrupting chemicals to the obesity epidemic. The scientists came across the paper while puzzling over their own research results.  None of their studies were about fat, but they had two things in common – they were all researching endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and they all ended up with unusually heavy lab animals.

Professor Julliet Legler
Photo Credit: John Collins

Endocrine disruptors are all around us – in plastic, in cans, in the water we drink, in the food we eat.  They're not supposed to enter our bodies, but they do. If they're proven to cause weight gain, the implications for human health are profound.

Now, scientists are going beyond animal research to human population studies, testing the theory that fetal exposure to man-made chemicals is a key reason for our global obesity epidemic.

Programmed to be Fat? is directed by Bruce Mohun, written by Bruce Mohun and Helen Slinger, and produced by Sue Ridout, Helen Slinger and Sara Darling for Dreamfilm Productions in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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